Mud Fever or Pastern Dermatitis is a term used to describe the red, sore crusty skin condition seen in the lower limbs of horses. In severe cases it can cause lameness.
One causal agent can be the micro-organism Dermatophilus Congolensis. Some soil types seem to predispose horses to these infections. The infection can stay dormant in skin, becoming active when the skin is compromised, usually by prolonged wetting.
Are there other causes of Pastern Dermatitis?
Some cases of Pastern Dermatitis can be caused by infestations of tiny chorioptic mange mites. This is most common in horses with long hair around their lower limbs, but can occur on less hairy legs.
These mites cause intense irritation and horses will often stamp their feet and even bite at the lower limb.
Staphylococcal (bacterial) as well as fungal infections can also be involved in the condition of Pastern Dermatitis.
White limbs or patches on the body can be more predisposed to Pastern Dermatitis, possibly due to an associated photosensitisation (light sensitivity).
Another form of pastern inflammation is caused by a disorder of the bodys immune system, which attacks the skin.
This is known as leucocytoclastic vasculitis and targets the unpigmented areas of the lower limbs, which also seems to be triggered by sunlight.
What can be done to prevent Pastern Dermatitis?
Avoid your horse standing in deep mud or soiled bedding.
Whenever possible allow mud to dry and brush off rather than wash off.
If you do wash mud off legs then warm water is advised and dry the legs thoroughly afterwards.
Avoid skin trauma such as rubbing from overreach boots or incorrectly fitted bandages.
Heavily feathered horses may be more prone to Mud Fever, therefore clipping the legs can help but be aware that this can expose the legs to further mud.
Control mite infestation by injectable Doramectin (Dectomax).
Diagnosis and treatment of Pastern Dermatitis is specific to each case.
If you are concerned that your horse is affected by Mud Fever please contact us on 01953 889750.